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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Case report

Paraparesis caused by a cyst in the spinal canal from a pseudarthrosis 22 years following Harrington rod procedure for scoliosis: a case report

Adrian Gardner

Author Affiliations

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol Road South, Northfield, Birmingham, B31 2AP, UK

Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:337  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-337

Published: 3 October 2012



This case demonstrates very late neurological deterioration due to a pseudarthrosis in the fusion mass after scoliosis surgery. Though not the first case in the literature, it is the first case in which pre-operative magnetic resonance imaging revealed that the compression was due to a cyst arising from the pseudarthrosis.

Case presentation

Twenty-two years after a successful correction and fusion for scoliosis, a 38-year-old Caucasian man presented with progressive numbness and significant weakness. As revealed by imaging, a cyst relating to an old pseudarthrosis was compressing the spinal cord. This was removed, and the cord decompressed, resulting in resolution of all symptoms.


Lifetime care of patients with scoliosis is required for very late complications of surgery. Asymptomatic pseudarthroses have the potential to cause symptoms many years after surgery.

Scoliosis; Pseudarthrosis; Harrington rod; Neurological deterioration